Category Archives for "Fashion"

Aug 14

Why do new fashion businesses fail?

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Productivity , Vibe Consulting

I have read that the number one reason new businesses fail is lack of money.  I believe this is true.  But there is more to the story than not having enough money.  Lots of times they do have money.  There have been many entrepreneurs that I have run across who have told me they spent $50,000, $100,000, or even $200,000 and they have nothing to show for it.  So they really did have enough money to, at the very least, start small and then build from there.

So what is the problem?  As I see it, it is two fold.  One reason is many emerging designers just don’t know where to start.  Their beginnings are somewhat chaotic as they jump from task to task without a plan.  They don’t even know who their target customer is.  Or they think they do but haven’t done any research to insure that they are right.  They do step 5 before step one. I have even seen people spend years on their brand and yet haven’t had any sales because they make it the last priority.  One entrepreneur I know put $1 million of inventory in his warehouse before he even started to think about how to sell it.

Another issue I see is brand owners who spend their money on ineffective marketing.   They jump around trying a little of this and a little of that.  I had one client spend $50,000  a fashion show in Europe yet sold no stores and had no plans to do so. And how many people do one $10,000 trade show with no orders placed, not realizing that it is a building process and takes many shows before they see results.  Or they try to do so many things but do not consistently pursue a few targeted strategies that will ultimately build results.

Yes, not having enough money makes it hard to be successful but spending what you have unwisely is the biggest culprit of all.

Jul 21

Are you selling enough brick and mortar stores?

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales

I recently read a statistic stated by Manhattan Associates that…
“Online retailers have seen sales decrease by as much as 23 percent in zip codes where physical stores close.”

That is an interesting statistic and surprising to some people I tell it to.  Most fashion industry people see the internet taking business away from brick and mortar.  What they don’t see is that brick and mortar stores support internet business.

This statistic also supports many retailers strategy around “omni-channel” retailing, where merchants seek to provide customers with a seamless experience whether shopping online via desktop or mobile device or at a traditional retail store.

I believe in the advantages of having several business silos because they form a synergy that multiples you sales.  That is why it is advantageous to sell at physical stores as well as on line.  The more exposure you have the more the consumer gets to know you and the more opportunities there are to increase you volume.

What is important to note here is that being in a brick and mortar store also helps build your brand.  I’ve read that it takes 9 points of contact before a customer purchases a product.  The truth is how many points of contact you need depends on many factors.  However there is data that supports the idea that there needs to be several touch points.

The great thing about being in a traditional retailer is that a customer can touch and feel and try on your product before they buy. Many people prefer to shop that way.

It is a smart strategy to be in many brick and mortar stores in order to build your business and get your name out.

With the advent of the internet more and more brands are focusing on website sales, sometimes to the detriment of their volume.  Don’t be short sighted.

 

Jul 19

Does Making Ethical Fashion Impact Your Sales?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

First off, what exactly is ethically produced fashion.

According to Ethical Fashion Forum “ethical fashion represents an approach to the design, sourcing and manufacture of clothing which maximizes benefits to people and communities while minimizing impact on the environment.

“If you describe something as ethical, you mean that it is morally right or morally acceptable.” Collins English Dictionary

For the EFF, the meaning of ethical goes beyond doing no harm, representing an approach which strives to take an active role in poverty reduction, sustainable livelihood creation, minimizing and counteracting environmental concerns.”

Ethically produced fashion matters to consumers.  In the US more and more people are becoming more socially conscious.  As a human beings, we are constantly bombarded with news of :  climate change, poverty, war, worldwide inequalities, shrinking natural resources and other challenges.  More people than ever before have woken up to the fact that we absolutely need to do something.   One of the ways people are doing something is by buying ethically made product.

In fact the consumer is so motivated to buy this way, “They will even spend 10 to 15 percent more on ethically produced clothing,” according to Marshal Cohen, retail analyst at NPD Group.

Social media is huge right now, and  consumers like to post about the brands they prefer.  Those that admire socially responsible businesses will discuss your brand and recommend it to others.  In fact this is a very newsworthy subject that can prompt writers to publish articles about your brand.

I speak to emerging designers all the time who are interested in making ethically produced fashion and have a strategy to do so.  One thing I make clear is that the product itself still needs to be right as well as ethically produced.  You cannot have one without the other.

Does Making Ethical Fashion Impact Your Sales?  I say the jury is in and that it absolutely can impact your sales in a positive way.

 

 

Jul 04

Are You Creating An Outstanding Brand Experience?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

What is a brand experience?  A brand experience is conceptualized as the sensations, emotions, perception, and behavioral responses evoked by brand related activities

Marketing is all about delivering  the kind of experience that you want to associate with your brand with each customers  interaction. The more compelling the experience, the more people take notice and the quicker you will build brand loyalty. In fact, the culture you create becomes your brand in your customers’ minds.

You must think about both the totality of the experience.  So every point that you touch a customer should be thought out to ensure  consistency across your various marketing elements.

This includes everything from customer service policies, to label and packaging; social media posts to advertising.  Think of going the extra mile.  Instead of just delivery a great experience think exception.  Don’t just make a happy customer but one who is surprised and excited.

I still remember the first time I ordered something from J. Crew.  It was a Father’s Day gift.  When I received the box and opened it up I was impressed by the packaging.  In fact so much so that I called my mother to tell her about it.  That’s the value of an outstanding brand experience.

Even though it isn’t a fashion brand I can’t help thinking of Disney as a perfect example of a brand experience done right.

“Years ago when the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction was being built at Disneyland, Walt Disney noticed that one of the construction workers on the project was from the Louisiana bayou country. The Louisiana bayou is the setting of the first part of the attraction.

Walt took the worker aside and walked him through the first part of “Pirates.” Disney pointed out details, they took their time, allowing the man to look around. Finally he asked the construction worker what he thought of it. Was it authentic looking? Did it remind him of the bayou country that he had grown up in?

“You know,” the man said, “it is good, but there is something missing. I just can’t put my finger on it.”

“Well,” Walt said, “let’s walk through it until you figure out what’s not right.”

So they started over again, and then they went back and did it again, each time allowing the man to look and ask Walt questions. Finally as they were passing through the bayou the man snapped his fingers.

“Fireflies!” The man excitedly proclaimed. “There ought to be fireflies in this swamp!”

Just a few days later, the swamp was alive with electric fireflies.” as told by Jeff Dixon in his post “Walt Disney Fireflies”

Walt Disney left nothing to chance when creating an experience.

Creating an outstanding brand experience is both a tactical and operational activity.  First you need to decide what you want to create and then put strategies in place to execute.  Remember to raise the bar high and create an experience your customers will brag about.

Jun 27

Why a New Fashion Company Urgently Needs a Business Plan

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

There is so much that goes into starting a business.  Most new entrepreneurs don’t know what it entails.  They don’t even know what their first steps should be.  That is why I advocate for a business plan.  It is a critical step in increasing your chances of success.

Some people think business plans are a waste of time.  Their reasoning is nothing goes as planned, so why take the time to plan?  While that is true there is still an extremely  strong case for it.

A good business plan forces you to answer questions about what your business stands for, your market differentiation, marketing plans, etc.  It also helps you figure out the financials of the business. By making a plan you come up with the structure of your business and the strategies of how you execute.

If you don’t make a plan your business at the mercy of the way the wind is blowing.  Reactive as opposed to proactive.

While things will come up that you didn’t plan on or expect, you can always course adjust.  Which is exactly the best way to run your business?  Truthfully you don’t have a crystal ball so how can you possibly plan for every contingency.  But, plan you must.  Then as you learn what works and what doesn’t you can refine your plan

Since many of my clients have asked me for a business plan, I decided to develop one myself.  I have designed a business plan template for fashion brands that covers mostly everything you need to plan for (unless your business has more unique parts I might not have thought of.  At which point it is easy to add to)

All you do is fill in the template and out comes you business plan.  Nothing could be easier.

If you are interested click here.

 

Jun 22

Three Reasons Why You May Need A Fashion Industry Consultant?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

This is going to sound somewhat self serving, but a good consultant can make a difference between success or failure.  You might be new to the industry or you have been in business for many years.  I have found 3 reasons why hiring someone to help can be valuable.

  1. You are new to the industry or running a business. I speak to a lot of new entrepreneurs who start a business and waste a lot of time and money not knowing what the best use of their resources are.  Many times they spend thousands of dollars with nothing to show for it.  Rather then steering their business in a certain order they may do step 5 before they do step one.  Or they have a warehouse full of merchandise with no plan to sell it.When I started my consulting business I hired a consulting business expert to help me navigate the industry.  I know the fashion industry as I have 30+ years experience.  But, I didn’t know consulting.  It made a difference in how I structured my business so I was profitable from the first month.
  2. Your business is stagnating.  It can be hard to figure out what to do.  You are so in the thick of it you can’t see the forest for the trees. An experienced advisor can look at your business from the outside without any preconceived bias.  They can be a fresh pair of eyes that can help you develop a strategy for growth.
  3. Business is good but you’re not profitable. There can be many reasons for this.  I have come across companies who’s margins are too low, or production costs are unreasonably high, or they waste money on low value activities.  Whatever the reason a knowledgable expert can review your business and aid you in being a profitable and sustainable brand.

 

Jun 20

How Do You Know If Your Fashion Brand Is Really Good?

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales

One of the worst situations I have to deal with is speaking with new brands who truly believe their collection is far superior to the reality.  I am not saying I’m always right but I have a fairly good sense of what it takes to be successful. So when I see a line that needs work, I always tell the truth.

As the saying goes, Praise makes you feel good but critique makes you better.

The clearest way to know is if customers are buying it.  Consumers vote with their wallets.  The more sales you are doing the better your brand is.  Of course if they are returning it to the store because the quality is poor or the fit is bad then it doesn’t matter how good sales are.

How do you know if your fashion brand is really good if it is a new company?  Here are 3 ways to find out.

  1. Studying your potential competition and seeing how you measure up is an important step in finding out if your brand is going to have good sales.  You need to be as good if not better then the brands you hang with.
  2. Showing your product to your target audience  then listening to the feedback will give you insight, especially if they show enthusiasm for the pieces and want to know where they can buy them.
  3. Try your product in a couple of stores or pop up locations even if it is on consignment and see how sales are.  If it sells great!  If not, find out why.

Many times your initial product will need tweaking till it’s right.  Researching, studying, and testing the market will give you valuable information and will assist you in making your brand really great.  Very few companies open up with a slam dunk and need a few seasons to get their line to be amazing.  And, in this day and age your line really needs to be superior to be successful.

Jun 07

Is Your Fashion Business In A Slump?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

I have seen a lot of business startups that have had consistent success and growth over many years.  The trends change and they find their businesses stagnating, or worse, shrinking.  Even some of the best brands out their have lost their luster.  Companies like DKNY, Guess, and Juicy Couture, which at times were the hottest, are struggling.  So it is not surprising when small and mid-sized companies reach a wall.

Many people blame it on the economy.  “People are buying,” they say.  They blame it on the Internet stealing people from the stores, or it’s all this cheap fast fashion that customers are buying instead of their product.   But the real truth is somehow these brands have lost their way.

Sometimes it is just complacency.  Brand owners believe the ride will never end.  Most times, it seems to me, it is because their products have become stale.  The market is always changing, and your merchandise has to change with it. If you are lucky, the changes are slow and subtle; sometimes, they are profound.

I believe one of the key ways to deal with change in trends is to always be testing new ideas.  Marketing people, test ads, copy, and promotions all the time to see what works the best.  The same should be true of fashion.  Trying new fabrics, new categories, and new styling aids in keeping you fresh.

Sometimes you do really need an overhaul.  I’m not necessarily talking about a revolution.  But rather, reviewing your products, company structure, marketing and all aspects of your company with the goal of improving your collection and business.

Tony Robbins once said, If you are not growing, you are dying.”  Business should always be growing.  If not, they run the risk of losing their place in the market.  Is your business in a slump?

 

May 31

Should You Start A Fashion Brand If You Have No Experience?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

I am of the belief that no you shouldn’t.  This industry is difficult to make money in for even the most knowledgeable person, it is almost impossible for the novice.

Now that I have said that, there are some of you that won’t listen.  You have a burning desire in you to do this, so by hook or by crook you are opening your own brand.  Far be it from me to discourage you from following your dreams. So here are some suggestions.

  • Get a job in the industry and learn on someone else’s dime.  Then you can start your business part time as you are learning.
  • Take courses at a fashion school on subjects you need to know, such as: pattern making, fabric technology, design, marketing, accounting , etc.
  • If you have a lot of money to invest, hire people to fulfill the functions you don’t know.
  • If you don’t have any money, network till you find a mentor.
  • Hire a consultant like myself to help you navigate the waters.
  • Be prepared to do a lot of research on how to run a fashion business
  • Make a business plan.  This forces you to put together a blueprint for managing your business.
  • Make sure that there is a desire for your product.  There are a lot of brands out there.  You need to be confident that you are bringing something special to the marketplace and there is an appetite for it.

While it may be near impossible, it isn’t truly impossible.  People like Ralph Lauren, Steve Madden, and Sara Blakely started their businesses without prior knowledge and have gone on to have major success.  So if this is something you are destined to do, I hope you will take some of my suggestions to aid you on your path.

 

 

May 12

The 5 Challenges A Fashion Entrepreneur Faces

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

Let’s face it, running your own business is tough.  It is especially tough in the Fashion Industry.  Business is stagnant and stores are closing.  Yet, no one is running around naked, so someone is selling something, why shouldn’t it be you?

You do need to solve the challenges a fashion entrepreneur faces.  Here what I consider the top 5.

  1. Financing– This is a big one.  While you can boot strap a business and grow it slowly, you do need some money to start with, otherwise how will buy fabrics, start a website, and do many of the things it takes to start a business.
  2. Keeping an eye on cashflow – This industry will create many ebbs and flows in your cash levels.   For example you will be paying for production long before you ship to your merchandise to the stores and get paid.  So while on paper it might look like you are doing well without cash you might not be able to get your product produced for all the orders you have.  They say “Cash is king”.
  3. Standing out in a crowded market– And believe me it is crowded.  There are lots of manufacturers copying the same trends and doing the same things. Everyone looks  alike.  What are you doing that stands out from the pack?
  4. Finding and keeping customers– So many entrepreneurs treat this as an afterthought.  They are so busy working on their product that they delegate sales to the very last step.  This is a mistake as getting and keeping customers needs to be addressed at every step of the business process.  No sales, no business, period!
  5. Inexperience – This is not a fatal flaw.  You can learn what you don’t know.  So many avoidable mistakes are made that are costly when someone is new to the industry.

That is why I am creating my first Fashion Business Success Club.  It is for you the solo-prenuer who feels like they are going it alone.  This mastermind group will include people like you that you can also network with.  Imagine having a team you can brainstorm with, along with working with me a 40 year Fashion Industry Executive.

This might lead to the very breakthrough you need.  So take the crucial next step for your business and sign up.

When you click the following link, you’ll be getting first access to my group coaching plan called “Maria Pesin’s Fashion Business Success Club”.

And once you get signed up, we’ll be meeting regularly every Wednesday evening online in a small group setting.

Every week we’ll cover a new fashion business topic, and I’ll take your questions one by one. Also, we’ll have a section dedicated to showcasing YOUR obstacles and I’ll help you find ways to overcome them.

Cool, right?

So, all you have to do is click the link and get signed up.

The first call is on me, and I’m only going to open this up to 10 people for right now.

I’ve never done a program like this before, and I want to make sure I can overdeliver and surprise you with awesome results.

Take care and hope to talk to you on our first call!

 

 

 

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